A presentation on international adoption led
Deanne and her husband, state trooper Ryan Mott, to add to their
family from the continent of Africa. "We both knew we wanted to
adopt from Ethiopia," Deanne said, "but that was about all we knew."
For three years the Motts have been working through the adoption
process and making preparations in their existing family. Their two
biological children, Kaden, 7, and Karson, 5, were looking forward
to welcoming new siblings, but Deanne and Ryan wrestled with the
enormity of their decision. "We just couldn't get on the same page
at the same time," Deanne said. "I just knew we were meant to adopt
two, and Ryan just knew that two babies would be a lot to handle.
We'd kind of hit a wall."
In April, Deanne took a team of her students to work with the
adoption organization in Ethiopia. "It was so not what I expected,"
Deanne reported. "We went with the intention of loving on these
children for a week, but the minute we stepped out of the van, the
kids came running to throw their arms around us."
The team worked in the orphanage and visited schools and villages
in the area, passing out school supplies and rag dolls that were
handmade by a woman in Mount Pulaski.
Deanne found any remaining adoption anxieties melting under the
orphans' sunny smiles. "There was no attachment disorder here,"
Deanne said. "The nannies that work in the orphanage love these
children. The children know how to love in return."
Deanne's team helped with the daily chores that accompany caring
for 90 orphaned children. Giant metal tubs sitting in the sunlight
were filled with soap and water, and hundreds of tiny articles of
clothing were washed by hand.
"I was sitting there washing for all of five minutes, and my back
started to hurt. My wrists started to hurt. I was hot," Deanne said.
"Two of the nannies do nothing but this all day long, every day,
They love what they do because they love these children."
The orphanage's washing machine had broken a few months earlier.
"Within a day, I was ready to pay whatever price it took to get a
new washing machine for the orphanage," Deanne laughed. "Then I
learned that it wasn't a question of money. There simply wasn't a
washing machine for sale anywhere in the country of Ethiopia."
Stores are merely small shacks with sparsely populated shelves. "I
can only compare it to our stores during very bad weather, when they
sell out of generators or ice melt," Deanne said. "Their shelves
look like that all the time. Empty."
In the countryside, the team met a woman with two children who
lived in a tiny shack with a dirt floor. Against one wall, mud had
been piled up and sculpted to form a couch. Two small beds and a
small pile of cups, bowls and clothing resting in a corner
represented the entirety of the family's worldly possessions.
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The teacher at a nearby school set aside the donated school supplies
for the poorest students. "Even there, where everyone was so much
poorer than we could imagine, there were still some who were more
impoverished than the others," Deanne said.
When the students gasped at the painfully obvious ribs in the
tiny torso of a malnourished infant in the orphanage, the nannies
were surprised by their reaction. "He looks so much better now than
he did before he came to us," they said. "We just don't see it that
The trip had a catalytic effect on the Motts' adoption efforts.
"There were two little girls there that I just felt drawn to,"
Deanne said. "When I found out they were sisters, it just clicked."
In a flurry of intercontinental messages, Deanne tried to get
Ryan up to speed on everything she'd learned. "This one orphanage
needs to find 30 orphaned babies a month just to keep up with the
demand for infant adoptions from the U.S.," Deanne said. "It's the
older kids that no one wants. Especially if they have siblings,
When Ryan heard about this, something clicked for him, too. "No
diapers? No formula? No middle-of-the-night feedings?" he said.
"Yeah, we can (take two)."
With both Motts on the same page, plans to adopt Fikeerta, 10,
and Kongit, 7, were ready to move ahead. "We couldn't progress
(before) because we were looking in the wrong place," Deanne said.
"We thought we wanted boys; we thought we wanted kids younger than
Kaden and Karson. God had a different plan."
Now a picture of two girls embracing adorns a jar resting on top
of the Motts' refrigerator, where money
is being collected to pay for adoption expenses. "We are either
going to pray them into our home," Deanne said, "or pray them into a
different good home, whichever God decides."
In the meantime, the girls have been moved into a transition home
in anticipation of their pending adoption, and the Motts hope to
welcome them to their new home within the next several months.
After seeing pictures from Deanne's trip, two other local
families have begun international adoption proceedings of their own.
"We might just get the whole orphanage adopted into the Lincoln
area," Deanne said, smiling over photos of small faces that smiled
Because Ryan and Deanne and Kaden and Karson are so willing and
ready to share their homes and their lives with children from
halfway around the world, we respectfully salute them as our
Personality of the Week: family style.